Better late than never: diversity & inclusion in the workplace

By Ken Poon
Wednesday, October 20th 2020

Besides COVID-19, diversity & inclusion has definitely been one of the hot and important topics of this challenging year.

Being a father of 2 young girls and watching them grow up in the past months, I wonder and yet worry what kind of world they will experience in the future. What can I do to make their lives a little better? Do I want them to face gender equality 20 years from now? Will systematic racism stay as hidden as it does today? I can’t help but wonder: is educating my girls about diversity and inclusion at home enough? Is it enough for all future generations?

Why is it important to us?

Having joined district m for more than a year, I’ve never felt once unsafe nor being treated unfairly because I am a visible minority. Nobody has ever spoken of any issues regarding D&I. However, having no issues doesn’t mean we have fixed the problem. Our duty is to ensure diversity and inclusion is as important as growing our business.

As a leader at district m, a company founded by 5 male co-founders, I believe diversity and integrity in the workplace is part of my responsibility. In fact, D&I should be the focus and responsibility of any leader. It is our responsibility to build a company that each districter is proud of; no matter their social background, gender, color, sexual preference, etc.

Perhaps district m can become an advocate of diversity and inclusion that will influence other workplaces of the future, especially for tech startups, and hopefully, in turn, create a better future for my daughters.

Diversity and inclusion in tech

Gender and race diversity

Google first sounded the alarm in 2014 when it released a report about employee diversity. The findings were quite alarming: 83% of Google tech employees were men, 60% of the entire tech workforce were white and another 34% were Asian. After Google released their report, the entire tech industry were reviewing their own workforce and inequalities.

Since then, many employers are actively looking for ways to improve diversity and inclusivity at work, but the problem cannot be solved overnight. Today, only 32% of Google’s workforce are women, with 54% white, 41.9% Asian and a mere 3.7% Black. And Google is not the only one to blame, as most tech companies around the world are seeing the same results.

Percentage of employees in the workplace

Identity and inclusivity

Inclusion involves questioning how employees feel as part of an organization. Employees need to feel safe, respected and valued by their employer. In the Tech Leavers study, conducted by Kapor Center, 57% of responders said they would have stayed at their company if it had taken steps to create a fair and inclusive work culture. Additionally, LGBTQ employees were most likely to be bullied (20%) and experience public humiliation or embarrassment (24%).

If we want our employees to feel safe and included in the work culture, we must create a space for all employees who self-identify as having a disability, being non-binary, LGBTQ, Trans, etc. in a fair and respectful manner. Approximately 1 out of 3 Canadians don’t see their work as LGBTQ inclusive. This can only have positive effects, as it will create a company that people are proud to work for.

How can we improve D&I at district m?

The truth is, we are just now starting to explore this. Our goal is to implement a program and committee at district m in the coming months. Better late than never, right? We might not exactly know how to pave the pathway yet. Our first steps will be to understand where we stand on the subject matter and to start building programs for impact.

Step 1: Where do we stand?

In the coming weeks, we want to look inward to see what we have done in the past at district m. Are districters aware of racial diversity issues, gender norms and the representation of minorities in the workplace? We will also need to look at the current composition of our workforce. Once we know the current situation (gender distribution, visible minorities and racial distribution) we will be able to set attainable goals for the future, and to continue to diversify our workplace.

Step 2: Building programs for impact

We also want to start thinking about programs and initiatives we can put in place. With education being the first step to understanding the issue, we want to find ways to immediately bring awareness to our districters. We need to set diversity and inclusion milestones which can be attainable. Additionally, if we look outward, is there anything we can do with our publishers and advertisers? These are questions we will want to answer in the coming months.

The future of D&I at district m

I know that if we are serious about inclusion at work, we will need to be transparent about our intentions. We need to rally allies and leaders of all kinds, starting right here with our first diversity and inclusion task force at district m with a big dream, utilizing every opportunity to inch forward.

Stay tuned, I would love to share some more of our progress in the near future. We would also love to hear about your diversity and inclusion experience as well!

Check out our solutions in action

Get in touch to schedule a live demo of our platforms with one of our dedicated experts.

Get in touch with one of our experts

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your business, reach out to us!